Fat Oprah and Me

I’ve never been much of an athlete. I did some pathetic gymnastics in elementary school and junior high. I loved it but I wasn’t exactly one of the girls the instructors spent any extra time on. They didn’t see me as an investment. Therefore I didn’t see me as an investment but I sure loved wearing my team hoodie around.

For years I tried out for every sports team there was, volleyball, basketball, badminton. I never made the first cut and eventually demoralized I gave up on the possibility that I might have some latent physical abilities just waiting to be discovered. It’s sad that I gave up so completely on that side of myself, sad because it marked the beginning of the end of my belief that I could do or be anything, sad because it launched me into a lifelong pattern of neglecting and ignoring my physical fitness.

In college I was average-sized but I’ve never been fit. I remember being mortified when someone would suggest a weekend hike, knowing that although I had a normal body weight, I’d be huffing and puffing up the hill, slowing down the group and unable to keep up with everybody else. I saw fit people, really athletic people, as somehow intrinsically different from me, somehow better.

I’ve gained a lot of weight through the years and on Labor Day this year I saw a number on the scale that really scared me, one of those lines I swore I’d never cross, one of those weights that “other” people see on the scale, people I smile at and feel sorry for. We want to have more kids but my body in its current state would have quite a hard time with the stress of pregnancy. I have frequent back and joint pain and I’m always telling the kids I can’t hold them because I’m too tired or my back’s too sore. Magoo will even ask me in the morning, “Mommy. Kin you carry me or is your back too hurting?”

Sure I weigh more now, but honestly this is not much different than the way I’ve lived most of my life, not being able to do many of the things I want to do because I’m too weak, soft and uncoordinated. Now I’ve been working out sporadically with some wonderful friends for about year, doing big events and getting the little boosts of self confidence I needed to bring me to the point where I was on Labor Day when I finally snapped.

I dusted off a copy of Bob Green’s 12-Week Total Body Makeover that was sitting on my shelf full of health and fitness books I buy to change my life and then give up on when I realize that a book can’t change my life. Only I can do that. I read through it in the car on the way home from Montana and I formulated a plan. For 12 weeks I would treat myself like an athlete training for a major event. Dan was happy to support me and so I began.

I’ve always been afraid to use the weights at the gym, not knowing how to use them and too intimidated to ask anyone so the week after Labor Day I threw my last inch of pride to the wind and headed to the gym with a water bottle and my book, bearing a picture of Fat Oprah on the back cover. I shamelessly poured over the instructions from Bob Green and then read the fine print on the weight machine itself and then took a look back at the Fat Oprah book. I did this for 3 days and found I had the hang of it. I could leave Fat Oprah at home in peace while I went about my rehearsed routine.

Now I’m working out 6 days a week, 6 sessions of cardio, one yoga session and 3 days of weight training. For the first time in my life I’m in a steady workout groove and I can. not. believe. how fast my body is changing. I’m not dropping a ton of weight but I feel completely different. I am stronger. I have WAY more energy and patience and for the first time in my adult life I have hope that if I really want to, I can do anything I want to physically.

I’ve been putting off blogging about this because like most people no matter how far I come there will always be a little bit of Fat Oprah waiting to pop out. I get the feeling that no matter how thin, beautiful and successful she is, there’s always that Fat Oprah in the back of her mind telling her that that’s who she really is, that she’s gonna give up this farce of fitness and any day go back to her old ways. again.

And I do. I feel scared. Every morning when I get up at 5 or 6 to head to the gym for a grueling workout, there’s part of me that wants to give up or that reminds me I’m still that little girl who got laughed off the volleyball court. And I am still covered with a layer of fat that feels ever-so-slightly out of place at the gym, in my spinning class full of hard bodies, in my yoga class full of former instructors who can bend themselves into human pretzels.

But then there’s a bigger part of me that feels so proud and happy and strong and I just want to share with the world how great I feel. Yesterday when I picked up Magoo, I was shocked at how light he felt. I wondered if his picky eating had finally resulted in some toddler weight loss. Then I caught sight of my suddenly existent tricep in the mirror and thought, “Nope. He feels light because I’m an athlete and because I’ve shoved my own personal Fat Oprah in my sock drawer and I’m not letting her out any time soon.”

This entry was posted in all about me, aspirations, get serious, health. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Fat Oprah and Me

  1. allysha says:

    awesome. you rock. and I am inspired. go DYM!

  2. carrie says:

    Good for you! A couple of months ago I got my butt in gear and went back to WW and lost 8 pounds and felt so much better. Then totally backslid and gained it back. i’m inspired by your energy and motivation! Keep up the good work!

  3. Lisa says:

    Excellent! Good for you. Keep it up, lady! I love that you’re feeling the benefits already! Don’t forget about them and keep going!! Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

  4. Lacey says:

    I just started taking yoga three days a week, and I knew it would be hard, but boy am I so not up to the challenge. I too have an average sized body, but would be huffing and puffing up any hike, or sweating like a monkey as I do some difficult yoga poses. I think my nearly 71 year old instructor expects more than my wimpy body can handle but I will try and persevere.

    Good job getting muscles. I’ve never really had muscles, except the ones you poke up with your other hand.

    Good job getting into shape.

  5. Nancy says:

    YOU ROCK SISTER!! Your stories of trying to play sports in junior high/high school reminded me of myself. When I was in high school I had a crush on a boy that was in track. So, I joined and threw the discus….very entertaining. I came in last place at every JV meet….but I had fun! Hopefully you can re-inspire me because my work-out desire has diminished the last month….I must be re-energized like you!!!

  6. So proud of you! I’m still trying to shake my Fat Oprah. I’m killing myself at the gym but she just doesn’t want to give up. She follows me around like a sticky bun. Sometimes I’d like to kick her right in the face!

  7. I just got an excercise bike and parked it in front of the TV next to Baby Dumpling’s play area (90% of the living room). I figure if the thing is staring my wife and I right in the face while we’re watching TV eating Cheetos, there might be some incentive to use it.

  8. Mary says:

    That’s so great! I’m excited for you! Since becoming a mom, having a regular exercise routine that involves more than going on walks to the park (hey, there are hills, right?) has felt nigh impossible. I think it’s awesome that you are feeling so great and sticking to it!

  9. All Adither says:

    Good goin’ Kathryn!

    Someday I suppose I’ll reach that point. But it’s not happening at the present time.

    Am filled with admiration for you and your early morning work outs.

  10. Mir says:

    You rock, and I’m so proud of you both for doing this and for sharing it. You’re inspiring!

    The Woman Who Will Always Hit Snooze And Sleep Longer Rather Than Exercise

  11. Nikki says:

    Self-Discipline is like a muscle, it get’s stronger the more you use it. You are totally changing your whole life right now, not just your body. Way to go! I am inspired by your dedication and I think your putting anything I’m doing to shame.

  12. Karen says:

    YAY KATHRYN!!!! I’m so proud of you! Keep it up!

    I recently hit that “enough already!” moment too and started Weight Watchers. I know my next step needs to be a regular work out regimen, thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Beck says:

    HOORAY! Good for you!
    I’ve been really making an effort to get in shape this fall – I’ve been having serious back pain and that’s been a MAJOR wake up call for me. So it’s yoga time at my house!

  14. I could have written the first part of this post…but I haven’t gotten to the 2nd part yet.

    You should be very proud of yourself for the strides you have made. Great job!!

  15. mamadeb says:

    Way to go, Cuz. I can relate to carrying around Fat Oprah. I should be way fitter and stronger and energetic than I am, but as long as I can still zip up my clothes I don’t make the effort. It’s all about health and an increase in physical endurance. The rest is icing.

    I’d better get off my butt.

  16. That’s awesome! Keep up the positive work. So often, I think we feel like we don’t deserve … whatever. The secret is we do. The trick is how to keep ourselves believing it. Good luck!!!

  17. Allanna says:

    You GO, girl!

    I know that I’m not the only one proud of you.

    You’re just amazing.

  18. bon says:


    Seriously, being strong and fit rocks the hoooouse! But let me be the lone voice of dissent on the issue of a layer of fat, because girl… I’m fat (5′ 9″ and around 240 before I got pregs this last time) and I don’t want your pity.


    I am a strong, and fit fat woman who… when I am not pregnant- can run the socks of a lot of “normal weight” people, skip rope and do “man” push-ups. I am beautiful the way that I am, and frankly, so are you.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Bon. I do feel beautiful the way I am but I cannot honestly say that I’m not fit, surely not as fit as you, and even if I get to a place of good cardiovascular strength and endurance, I won’t consider myself truly fit until I’ve dropped some of this weight to reduce the pressure on my joints, to reduce my risk of cancer and heart disease. There are some things that won’t go away until the weight does.

  19. Bailey's Leaf says:

    So many of us feel the way you do. I know that I was always the last one picked for teams in high school. Oh, and my favorite part was that the team that got “stuck” with me argued because they still didn’t want me. Oh, was that a boost for my physical education future.

    I don’t run. I tell people that I don’t run unless I’m on fire and even then you aren’t supposed to.

    I can play volleyball, though. That is the only sport that I’m actually any good at.

    It is truly sad that girls aren’t encouraged more with the whole phys ed. thing. We’ve done our best to encourage our daughter to run and try all sorts of things. We hope that she doesn’t get caught in the exercise rut that we are/have been in.

    My scale tells me a number that I don’t want to see. My pants are telling me a number that I don’t want to see. Thanks for giving me a kick in the fanny to get moving, too.

    Good for you!

  20. Allison says:

    I’ve been following your blog for about a year without saying much (I think I’ve commented once before), but I”m coming out of lurkdom to say:

    You are my inspiration.

    Everything you said about yourself sounds like everything I could say about myself. Time to shove my own personal Fat Oprah father back and really make an effort.

    Thank you. You rock.

    • Okay now you need to follow up and tell me what your plan is. 🙂

      • Allison says:

        Hmmm…my plan…riiiiiiight… 🙂

        Well, for starters, the gym is out because my hubby leaves for work at 6am and I’m not so excited about kicking Fat Oprah in the backside that I’m willing to get up that early! But right now I’m walking my older kids to and from school (1 mile round trip) almost every day while pushing a stroller (and it’s uphill on the way home, which I figure must count for something!), and I just started getting up early to do yoga without three little distractions. And then there’s the eating more healthy attempt that’s slowly coming along. It will be a slower process for me, I think, but I’m determined to make it work this time!

        By the way, I love your blog! I spent the better part of the summer ignoring my children while I read all your past entries, and now I feel like I know you, but then that’s weird, because you have no idea who I am. Although I believe we have a six-degrees kind of connection – I think my cousin Carrie was friends with your husband in high school. Or something. I found your blog through a link on hers. Oh, in case you hadn’t noticed, I like to ramble about random things. And now you know something about me.

  21. “Fat Oprah”…..I love it. Why is it so hard to be disciplined? Thanks for the inspiring blog now I must go jog and eat salad.

    By the way…did you change your eating habits or just add exercise??

  22. Heidi says:

    Outstanding! It may be tough to drag yourself to the gym, but doesn’t it feel great afterwards! We loves us some endorphins.

    I suggest not getting too wound up by the number on the scale. By building muscle, the number isn’t going to magically drop, because muscle weighs more than fat. By working out consistenly, you know you’re doing good things for yourself.

  23. I think we’re kindred spirits, except for the part about trying out for sports teams…I never even tried. ;o) But seriously, HOW do you get up so early to go exercise?!?! It makes me tired reading about it…maybe that’s why I should do it!

    • Knowing people are waiting for me definitely helps. I had to get workout buddies and we all force each other out of bed. That’s 3 days a week. The other 3 it’s up to me but I’ve told several people that I do it every day so now I feel like I have to or I’ll make myself a liar. And I go to bed way earlier. WAY earlier. That’s probably the hardest part.

  24. Margaret says:

    I’m really proud of you!

    And I recognize the power of the deep down lesson that “I am the only one who can change my habits.” It’s a humbling lesson to learn, but something that I’ve been thinking about a lot as I head into another grad degree, DETERMINED to be a better organized, more motivated, harder-working student on this one than I was on the last one. And _I_ am the one who controls that.

    And I also love that one of the blessings of the whole thing is that you can pick up your boy without pain. 🙂

  25. Wendy says:

    nice work! good for you. you’re inspiring us all!

  26. Goslyn says:

    Way to go, DYM! Keep up the good, and hard, work. I made a similar commitment back in January, and I have lost about 30 lbs and am more fit than I’ve ever been in my life. I love it. I am a completely different person, and I love it.

    Good luck and happiness on your road to fitness. I know I don’t know you personally, but I am very, very proud of you.


  27. Pam in Utah says:

    Ooooo! Cool! Way To Go!

  28. jsprik says:

    i’m with LPC….i’m tired just reading it, lol. no really, though, i am in the process of trying to lose a few pounds (like 80 to be exact) haha i know thats not a few but i’m working on just a few at the moment. i have lost 4 lbs in 2 weeks so, i am on my way. and i have yet to start the exercise part, i have just been watching my diet so far. but the way i’ve eaten the last couple days i’ll be lucky to keep my 4 off!! 🙁

  29. Heffalump says:

    This made me cry because I want to have the energy to have fun with my kids.
    You GO GIRL!

    • It’s really really worth it. For you and for them. The greatest benefit I’ve seen so far is watching Laylee’s attitude about exercise change. She wants to do it to. She asks me when she’ll be old enough to compete in races with me. She will grow up thinking that staying fit and active are what everyone does and that thrills me.

  30. I’m right there with you…lost 25 bounds 9 months ago and then slowly stopped going to the gym and you know what comes next. So back into the whole work out thing…but It’s actually a good thought to keep that picture of Fat Oprah in the back of ones mind…because it will always put fear back into me!

    Way to go on working out so much! 🙂

    • I have lost the same 10 lbs three times in the past year. Now I’m not losing a ton but I’m feeling better about my progress than I have in the past because it feels like I’m beginning a habit.

  31. Rebecca says:

    Congratulations a million times over. I’ve been working off the baby weight of my third child but have become not-very-excited about-it of late. This was the kick in the pants I needed. Many thanks!

    And thank you for your refreshing honesty – and for posting despite the “Fat Oprah” hangups. I do understand where you’re coming from, and so my gratitude goes that much deeper.

    Did you by chance ever check out Curves? I don’t know what kind of gym you go to, but I’ve never been a fan of those big glass walls where everyone and their mother can watch you sweat. Plus also men. I can’t excercise in front of the species.

    Curves is totally closed and private, and women-only. It’s only a 30 minute workout and it does both cardio, weight-lifting and toning. I lost all my baby weight with my first son in less than three months. Now I live in Brazil and I’m stuck with running (truly, who LIKES to run?!) and exercise videos. I can’t wait to get back to Curves! Check it out – you won’t regret it.

    • I haven’t tried Curves yet but I hear great things about it. I’ve been toning up really nicely so far but not losing weight as fast as I like. Although I’m not sure it’s even possible to lose the weight as fast as I’d LIKE.

  32. red says:

    I KNOW those struggles. I used to cry while walking on my treadmill at 5am. But check out my website (passthepotatoes.com) – that’s how I lost 15 lbs (the really hard last 15) I was NEVER hungry. I eat ALL the time. I work out too, but not too too hard. Believe me, I’ve researched it all – I promise you, the weight will melt off. It’s not a fad or a scam it’s just a few Words of Wisdom! Don’t eat any oils AT ALL – eat TONS of potatoes, rices, corn, and veggies. I found a way to not make it boring…there are lots of recipes I’ve tried on my family and that they love. But more importantly, you can EAT whenever you want. Eating fat makes you fat. Eating starches make you slim. Just look at Asia.

    • Oh Red. I don’t know if I’m ready for that completely yet. Does it help at all if you do it a little? I hear you’re an amazing cook.

      • red says:

        Oh, of course you can. I just hate to see people workout so hard and consistently and then foil their whole workout by what goes in their mouths. Because no matter how hard you workout (unless you’re an olympic athlete – and that’s even questionable) , you can’t counter what you eat. #1 reason I think people stop working out – Little to no results physically because they don’t change their eating habits.

        • red says:

          that sounded negative after I read it again. Let me just say this – getting into a workout routine is AWESOME and you WILL lose pounds – and you WILL be more physically fit – you don’t have to do what I do. Just watch your fat consumption – that’s all I have to say. Try to keep it less than 20% of calories in any food you eat. If you need to know how to figure that out let me know.

          • It didn’t sound negative to me at all. I’ve just heard from Eve about how committed you are to eating Vegan and although I can’t commit to that, I’m curious if I can make a difference by cutting back a bit on animal products and fats. I’m semi-addicted to eggs, you see.

  33. Mara says:

    Congratulations, and good job! What rarely gets acknowledged is that everybody who isn’t fit or doesn’t go to the gym– we all have a story of why, that background we have to work past in order to feel comfortable in the alien gym environment. It’s just as important to recognize what’s holding you back emotionally and work through that, as any other park of the diet-excersise equation.

  34. Marian says:

    Good for you!!

  35. Gosh, I almost could have written this post. I was so uncoordinated as a kid (still am, to tell you the truth). Started putting on pounds in college, then REALLY started putting on pounds after having three babies in four years. I’m really truly committing to exercise and eating right for the first time in my life now, and it is hard but SO rewarding. I actually am enjoying running, and enjoy the feeling of my muscles being a little sore after a workout. It lets me know that they’re in there (somewhere, under the flab) being put to use!

  36. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    Hey, congratulations and good luck! I had a similar experience this year, only it involved sizes of clothes as opposed to numbers on a scale. It amounts to the same thing. But I’ve added a half hour walk every day at lunch and I never, ever miss it. Somewhat of a miracle given all the rain we had this year but I never really got rained on. All that waits to be seen now is if I can keep it up through a Canadian February. heh.

    But if not, I have my exercise bike and a ton of DVDs to keep my brain occupied while my body does it’s thing. Also a husband with anew addiction to books on tape.

  37. Heather Lafter says:


    Oprah put out a video in 1997 that is so FAB and super modivational. http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie/oprah-make-the-connectionit's-about-changing-your-life/

    My favorite part of the whole video is when she is getting ready for a big red carpet affair…and it shows her getting ready..hair, make-up, diamonds ect ect…but at the end it shows her getting home and all that coming off and then she is in her P.J.’s alone in her bed…and she is after all just a person doing the best that she can. It gives me chills just thinking about it!! Check it out!!

  38. KYouell says:

    I can’t afford to join a gym. Although I think my hubby would be supportive about it, I don’t want to work out that way. I joined a walking book club and (unless we have a pressing errand) I walk extra laps after walking with the ladies. And I now walk places that I used to drive. For example, we walked to the grocery store yesterday. It’s only a mile away and we only needed some cocoa. Why start up a van when the youngest clearly needed a nap? She’d fall asleep in her car seat and then I’d have to carry her around the store. Much better to put them both in the stroller and let her fall asleep and wake up as she needed. I get exercise and fresh air and I get something done. Woot!

    • I think the outdoor walking thing is perfect. Add the book club to it and I’m sold. It doesn’t matter so much what you’re doing, just that you’re moving and making a habit of it.

  39. Katherine says:

    yay! 🙂 So happy for you. I need to get my post-partum self back into some semblance of a workout routine!
    Wish we lived closer so we could be workout buddies!

  40. JD says:

    I am totally getting on it this week! Bicycle time here I come!
    Thanks for the boost!

  41. jennydecki says:

    As long as you stay healthy and keep your personality. Cause when fat oprah became thin oprah she kinda sucked.

    Then she got a little bigger and was just normal sized oprah. It only took her fifteen years to even that out. Cause she went overboard. Which is never a good thing.

    Sometimes I miss fat oprah. But if she is happy being thin and isn’t doing anything detrimental to her body in the process, that’s great for her. And you.

  42. cheetah says:

    we’re twins yet again. I am in the same boat. I lost lots of weight when I had to starve myself for stomach pain. I put all my weight back on – and more. Baby fat weight. It’s been so sad and discouraging. But I am getting into new habits that I can keep. Like you I’m not losing weight, but my body is getting some form back and I feel happy with myself. I feel strong. I have to remind myself often though.

  43. cchrissyy says:

    DYM, this is so good I bookmarked it and just wanted to let you know I read it again this morning. I am so scared of exercise and also so sick of feeling weak and tired!

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